Garcia case and the Hague Convention
Those of you watching the news over the holidays may have caught the story of a Wisconsin man reunited with his 9-year-old daughter after a long international custody battle. This father was reunited with his daughter after his daughter had been taken by her mother to Japan four years ago. His daughter was finally returned to him not because Japan recognized that father should have custody of his daughter, and not because a Japanese Court sent his daughter back to the United States, but because the mother of this child made the mistake of visiting Hawaii, thereby subjecting her to arrest for abducting their child from the United States in the first place. For those of you who didn’t catch this story, you can read it here.
Apparently, Japanese Courts took quite a long time to recognize father’s custodial rights to his child, leaving a long, arduous process for the father of this child to obtain justice or even visit with his child. Many might wonder how this could be – why wouldn’t the Japanese Courts immediately recognize the United States custody order and return this child to the United States?
To further understand this, one must look to the 'Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction', or the 'Hague Convention'. This is a multi-national treaty where 'member' countries essentially make a pact to recognize custody orders arising out of other member countries and provide a swift method of returning children who were abducted from one member country to another member country. Unfortunately, Japan is not yet a member of this Convention. Interestingly, Russia and Singapore, among others, joined in 2011.
The ‘Hague Convention’ is not a custody court, but rather a means in which to determine which country a custody action should be heard, and a means to prevent parents from abducting children from one country in search of a country they believe will be more favorable to their custodial wishes. If you wish to read more about this subject, I would suggest this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hague_Convention_on_the_Civil_Aspects_of_International_Child_Abduction
Here’s hoping you all had a happy holiday season.